SBD/January 24, 2012/Franchises

MLB Franchise Notes: Will Pirates Payroll Increase For '12 Season?

Pirates' payroll was about $52M for '11 season, and currently it is around $46M
Pirates President Frank Coonelly in December stated that the Pirates' payroll "'likely' would be larger in 2012 than it was at the end of 2011, when it was around $52 million." In Pittsburgh, Bob Smizik notes it is "around $46 million today." It is "too early to suggest the Pirates won’t be at $52 million or higher but it’s sure looking that way." So "even when attendance increases, and it did by 20 percent last year, there’s no guarantee the Pirates will raise payroll -- despite what Coonelly says." Smizik: "We’ve seen the Pirates philosophy: If you come we will build it (payroll) -- maybe. ... Only the Pirates, playing in a tax-funded stadium and heavily subsidized by MLB, would expect the fans to ante up before a good product is on the field" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 1/24).

ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE: MLB.com's Anthony DiComo noted the Mets will "open next season with a payroll of somewhere between $90 million and $91 million." That "represents a roughly 37 percent drop from the club's payroll last year." But it "still sits in the middle of baseball's financial pack." Last year, it would have "ranked 13th." DiComo wrote had the Mets "not hovered so high on baseball's economic scale for the better part of a decade, their 2012 payroll might not seem so meager" (MLB.com, 1/20).

BLAME GAME: In Tampa Bay, John Romano wrote the Ray's attendance problem "does not get solved by blaming fans or portraying ownership as the villain." The only way MLB in the area "survives is by creating an atmosphere where a franchise is not selling its tickets one seat at a time." The city "seems to be banking on the idea that increased marketing will goose attendance this season, and maybe that will work to some extent." Romano: "I just don't know that it's a game-changer for the future. ... For this thing to move forward, the Rays are going to have to take the lead because neither the business community nor local politicians seem inclined. And that means [team Owner Stuart] Sternberg is going to have to become more visible and more vocal and patiently explain what he is trying to accomplish" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/21).

MAKING CONCESSIONS: The Braves are offering a 33% concession discount to their 20-plus game season-ticket holders beginning this season. The discount will be offered on food and beverages at all fixed stands and in-seat service, but will exclude alcohol and will not be valid at the 755 Club, Chop House, Georgia’s Own Credit Union Club or roaming vendors. Each season-ticket holder will have a bar code on their ticket or seat locater that will be scanned at the concession stand or by the in-seat server and will automatically recognize the ticket as eligible for the discount (Braves).

NEW CLOTHES FOR THE ROAD: Giants Senior VP/Corporate Marketing Mario Alioto said that the team will introduce “an alternate road jersey for Sunday games that are inspired by the club’s ‘Will Clark era.’” In San Jose, Andrew Baggarly noted the gray jerseys will “feature the ‘SF’ logo on the left chest with black piping down the center and the Giants logo on the sleeve.” The jerseys “will be worn with the orange-brimmed caps.” Alioto also said that the team “will continue to wear orange jerseys for Friday home games” in ’12 (MERCURYNEWS.com, 1/23).
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